Water birth enables women to give birth in the way their bodies were designed. I feel that birth pools have brought a special quality to the environment of birth, helping midwives get back to the roots of being with women.
Water birth, like home birth is a social model rather than a medical model of birth and this is significant because the past hundred years could be seen the takeover of birth by the obstetric profession, as these two quotes suggest:
Moving the birth to hospital was part of the takeover, now Obstetrics has succeeded with hospitalizing almost everyone, to control birth and control women. (Pursuing the Birth Machine Wagner 1994.)
Water birth like home-birth is controversial. Why? Because the Obstetricians are not in control. (Water Birth Unplugged Wagner 1995)
These quotes are from the mid 1990’s and it is pleasing to see how much things have moved forward since then, with lots more midwifery and obstetric units not embracing normal birth and water birth, shifting the balance of power back towards the right direction.
When I first observed a mother giving birth in water I was wide eyed with wonder; I was witnessing a perfect physiological birth. This is because the woman had the perfect conditions for hormone production:
A room with dimmed lights.
A calm peaceful atmosphere
A tremendous respect for the mothers privacy
She was floating in a warm body of water
As a result the 1st birth I encountered saw a woman release her baby into the clear warm water and as I brought the baby to the surface it was greeted by the young mother in a magical atmosphere. I was amazed that these women did not require drugs, interventions or suturing. This totally inspired me to become an advocate for the power of water in connection with birth.
While the sensual pleasures of water are undeniable research has also demonstrated that using a birth pool,
can accelerate labour
reduce a woman’s need for drugs
Reduce the need for surgical intervention
lower blood pressure
Reduce perineal tears. (Balaskas J. The Water Birth Book 2004.)
The buoyancy and comfort of water also allow woman to adopt more upright positions which accelerate the babies decent and rotation in the pelvis. Many women on the brink of desperation have sunk into the warm water that has changed the birth from miserable to manageable.
I like to think of the pool as a ‘Liquid Epidural’.
Not because it takes away all the pain but because you enter the pool at about the time you would be considering an epidural and sigh with pleasure as you are now weightless and surrounded by a lagoon of soothing warm water . In short water is an amazing pain relieving medium!
Once you have your pool at home then the fun begins as this is when your partner can do a few trial runs filling and emptying the pool and this way you are able to check that everything works and have a great relaxation at the same time!
Well I hope you have been encouraged to try water for your birth and when you are planning a water birth remember that to choose a homebirth you know the pool will be available as in Hospital the pool room could be occupied.
When it comes to your baby’s arrival the water must be kept at body temperature 37 degrees Celsius thus the pool becomes an extension of the warm watery medium of the womb and there is a gentle transition into the world for the baby. Moreover the baby’s dive reflex will prevent it from breathing while rising to the surface and the umbilical cord will continue to provide a steady supply of oxygen.
The continuum, from the womb,
Through water to the mother’s arms,
Closes the circle.
She takes her child right into her heart in the first moment.
(Balaskas J. Water Birth Unplugged 1995)
If you are struggling to find support for your home water birth, please contact us at UK Birth Centres and we can advise you.